The Edgar Allan Poe Collection of Susan Jaffe Tane


Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque

After “The Raven,” Poe is most often remembered for his pioneering contributions to the short story, a format he used to experiment in proto-science fiction, detective fiction, satire, gothic horror, and mystery. Like the rest of his writings, Poe’s short stories, which he called tales, first appeared in the pages of magazines, newspapers and gift annuals. Poe believed the tale was of greater value than the novel, in part because it can be appreciated in a single sitting. As he wrote in his review of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Twice-Told Tales: “The tale proper, in my opinion, affords unquestionably the fairest field for the exercise of the loftiest talent, which can be afforded by the wide domains of mere prose.”

The Tane collection contains an important original manuscript of Poe’s story, “Epimanes,” as well as the first printed appearances of his most significant tales. Poe also published two collected editions of his short stories, Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840) and Tales (1845). Both are in the Tane collection.

Edgar Allan Poe. Autograph manuscript of “Epimanes.” Baltimore, May 4, 1833.
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Written in his experimental “hand-printing,” “Epimanes” is among Poe’s best early attempts at short fiction. A letter integral to the manuscript demonstrates that it was originally sent to the editors of the New England Magazine in 1833. It was declined, perhaps because of its strong political overtones, but was eventually published in the March 1836 Southern Literary Messenger. It later appeared as the lead tale of the second volume of Poe’s Tales of the Grotesque and the Arabesque. It appeared again in the December 1845 issue of The Broadway Journal, under the title “Four Beasts in One—the Homo-Cameleopard.”

Edgar Allan Poe. “Epimanes.” In The Southern Literary Messenger. Richmond, March 1836.

This was the first publication of “Epimanes.”

Edgar Allan Poe. “Sciope—A Fable.” In The Baltimore Book, edited by W. H. Carpenter and T. S. Arthur. Baltimore: Bayly & Burns, 1838.
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The first printing of one of Poe’s earliest and most cryptic tales, “Siope—A Fable” appeared in this Baltimore annual.

Edgar Allan Poe. “The Fall of the House of Usher.” In Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine. Philadelphia: William E. Burton, September 1839.
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The first appearance of one of the most famous works of Gothic fiction appeared in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine in 1839, a time when Poe was being paid ten dollars a week to serve as an assistant editor of the magazine. He was able to increase his salary by contributing poems and tales to Burton’s, for which he was paid separately.

Edgar Allan Poe. Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque. Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1840.

Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque contains some of Poe’s most renowned stories, including “MS. Found in a Bottle,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Man That Was Used Up,” and “Epimanes.”

Poe had been planning a book of tales for a number of years, constructed around the conceit of a literary club of fictional characters, to be called Tales of the Folio Club. The idea languished for want of a publisher until about September 1839. By then, Poe had created additional stories, bringing the total to twenty-five. Lea and Blanchard of Philadelphia agreed to bring out the book, although Poe received no cash compensation from the firm. His payment came in the form of several copies of the book to distribute to friends and family.

Edgar Allan Poe. Tales. New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1845. First edition.

Poe’s literary career reached its highest point in 1845, with the publication of Tales (June) and The Raven and Other Poems (November). Tales included the detective stories Poe had perfected over the past few years, as well as several of his tales of horror and suspense. The twelve tales in this volume were selected by the editor, Evert Duyckinck, without consulting Poe, who thought that those chosen were not his best. Tales sold well. Poe received an eight-cent royalty per book that sold for 50 cents—a significant improvement over his remuneration for Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque five years earlier, when he received only copies of the book as payment.

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